I am Legion
by Lord Dragon Claw
Disclaimer: Yeah, Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto. I don't, and no money is made from this.
At least, no money I know of.
Chapter One: Surprising
Hatake Kakashi was rarely surprised. He was once the Konoha ANBU Captain and a student to one of the most surprising shinobi in history. To say that the masked man could get surprised would be to say that the sun was cold.
When he showed up, he was surprised by the ten kagebunshin (shadow clones) hidden around the training field, by the fact that they were actively suppressing their presences and chakra signatures to a minimal amount (still not enough to fool the great Copy Kakashi), and by the fact that Naruto, the source of the clones, was simply doing ab crunches when he arrived.
He was not surprised when Naruto didn't even bother to hide at the start of the bell test like Sasuke and Sakura did. The kid just stood there, boasting about how easy to take down the Jounin would be.
Just to annoy him, Kakashi pulled out the latest copy of the Icha Icha series and began to read it, provoking the blonde into charging him. He idly blocked the boy's attacks, before moving behind him and making the tiger seal.
Sasuke and Sakura expected a jutsu of some sort...
"Konoha's Secret Arts: Thousand Years of Pain!"
... but not anything like Kakashi imitating a very loud proctologist. What really surprised everybody was when Naruto simply turned to smoke.
A shadow clone! mused the masked ninja before something in the smoke caught his eye. OH SH-
The explosive tag hidden within the clone's smoke from dispelling exploded, but Kakashi had managed to evade the fireball with a kawarimi. He hid in a tree nearby concealing himself so completely that not even an ANBU would be able to find him without tripping over him while he calmed his racing heart.
Kakashi was not used to being surprised. Not at all. But Naruto certainly wasn't what he appeared to be. Not if he could plan so well in advance to have his clone activate the exploding tag in advance so precisely that it would go off just after being dispelled... or maybe it was just supposed to go off while he was engaged with it? That would certainly have gotten him by surprise if he hadn't noticed the tag before it went off, and he would not have noticed it if he hadn't inadvertently dispelled the clone. And there was the fact that the thing was a shadow clone the entire time.
That was way too close, decided Kakashi. Naruto just proved himself to be the most dangerous of the group.
Sasuke swallowed nervously. He didn't know whether Naruto had just killed their sensei or if the man had survived. Like Kakashi, the young Uchiha had come to the same conclusions.
It was a good thing that exploding tags were banned in the Academy sparring sessions... But that clone had been solid! Just like the ones that jumped him the day before! What sort of clone jutsu was that, anyway?
"Hey, hey, hey!" whispered an annoying voice beside Sasuke. The dark haired boy nearly jumped at the sound, but remembering the test he was able to restrict his movements to a merely startled twitch.
"What do you want, dobe (dead-last)?" If one person was going to keep up appearances, then so would the Uchiha.
"Now, now, teme (jerk), I know that you know I'm better than I let on," admonished the blonde. He leaned in conspiratorially. "And I know that you know that Kakashi-sensei is fine. Now he's gone and hidden himself... want to help find him?"
"Why not?" asked the blonde conversationally, despite whispering. It seemed that he wasn't annoyed at Sasuke, even though he normally would be given his track record. "There are two bells and two of us, after all."
"You'll just slow me down, dobe."
Naruto grinned at this. "You can't say I didn't offer, at least."
With that, the blonde dashed forward, making a lot of noise in the underbrush, into the clearing to inspect the crater his overpowered exploding tag made, totally giving away Sasuke's position.
Biting back a curse, Sasuke did his best to hide himself again.
Kakashi figured that the blonde who ran into the crater was another clone... possibly scouting out the area to see if it could find any trace of the silver-haired Jounin. Kakashi wasn't going to move to attack the thing like the bait it obviously was.
Hell, it even spoke to Sasuke for a bit to make itself more convincing, but just to be sure... Kakashi briefly uncovered his Sharingan eye, which let him know that it was indeed a clone.
He would wait. He was very good at waiting, unlike his potential students.
But luck was not on Kakashi's side that day. The wind changed direction, bringing his scent to the blonde's nose. Said clone charged the tree, which Kakashi leapt out of, throwing a brace of shuriken at the clone to dispel it. Kakashi wanted to be well out of the blast range of the next exploding tag, if there was any, when the clone was dispelled.
The clone popped like a bubble. There was indeed a piece of paper with writing on it left behind, but it was obvious it wasn't an exploding tag.
Kakashi moved forward to inspect the paper, but he did so cautiously. He found that it was a message. He read it from a distance of four meters - no point in getting too close if it was another trap.
As predicted, Sasuke doesn't understand
the meaning of teamwork.
Going to test Sakura.
I challenge you to find me.
Kakashi reflected on that while checking his surroundings. This indeed was the kid who managed to prank most of Konoha on a regular basis, and pranked a random ANBU headquarters once a month. This kid was able to evade Chuunin, Jounin, and ANBU on the chases throughout the city after any given prank for hours on end until he was finally cornered. At which point the boy gave up with no further resistance.
That is actually rather odd, realized Kakashi. I should ask the Hokage about it, as he knows the most about the boy.
Sakura was confused about Naruto. What type of clones were those? They were obviously solid, which was odd, but she didn't think he knew any elemental clone jutsu. And wasn't the bunshin (clone) his worst jutsu anyway?
"Hey, Sakura-chan?" whispered a familiar, but annoying, voice, startling the pinkette so badly that she fell out of the tree she was hiding in. Luckily, there was another blonde directly below her able to catch her, bridal-style.
"Watch out, Sakura-chan!" reprimanded the second Naruto. "We're still in the middle of a Jounin's test!"
"I know that, idiot!" Sakura hissed back. "Put me down!"
Shrugging and shaking his head, Naruto dropped her like last year's gallon of milk.
"So," he began. "Do you want to help me fight Kakashi-sensei?"
Sakura's eye twitched. "Why would I do that? That would leave Sasuke-kun out of it! He wouldn't be able to get a bell!"
Naruto shook his head. "Whatever." He then turned towards where Kakashi was standing.
"HEY!" he yelled, getting the Jounin's attention. "SAKURA'S OVER HERE!"
"SHUT UP YOU IDIOT!" shrieked Sakura as she punched Naruto in the head. He popped like a balloon. Startled, the girl turned towards where the other Naruto had been only to see that it was gone.
She bolted into the foliage to try and hide herself before Kakashi could find her.
Kakashi palmed his face before deciding to pursue Sakura. One quick genjutsu, and she was out like a light. The Jounin sighed.
It was obvious that Naruto knew exactly what was going on in the bell test and was disgusted with the fact that neither of his potential teammates had figured it out yet. Kakashi really needed to learn more about the blonde. If the other two couldn't learn by the end of the day, then he'd request to teach the kid one-on-one. Besides, he owed it to Naruto's father more than he owed anything to anyone else.
Oh, Sasuke ran into another one of Naruto's clones, apparently. A brief fight that was as loud as all else, and the clone was dispelled. Might as well put the Uchiha out of commission.
When the alarm rang, alerting everyone to the fact that it was noon, Sakura had only barely managed to unearth Sasuke enough for him to get free. And that was only after she passed out thinking that her crush had been decapitated.
Both prospective Genin had been tied to logs. When Kakashi turned to get Naruto, seven of him had shown up. Kakashi shrugged and told all the blondes to sit.
He explained what the bell test was about, and that Naruto was to eat both lunches in front of the other two. He then left on an "errand" of some sort.
Two of the Narutos picked up the bentos containing the food. They looked at each other before offering to feed the two restrained people.
"NARUTO!" exclaimed Sakura. "He told you not to let us eat!"
"That's exactly why I'm feeding you," explained a third blonde.
"Hn?" grunted Sasuke.
A fourth Naruto shook his head. "If we're supposed to function as a team, and the two of you are too hungry to help fight Kakashi..."
Both Sasuke's and Sakura's eyes widened in realization.
"Anyway," continued a fifth blonde. "I'm surprised neither of you could figure it out."
"One of you is a genius," said the sixth.
"And the other is the top kunoichi of our year," replied the final blonde.
"But neither of you realized that we were being tested on our teamwork and adaptation," finished the third one again. "I'm rather disappointed in the both of you."
"If you're so smart, why are you the dead-last?" asked the irate Uchiha.
"You honestly think I'd parade my full capabilities in front of the majority of the village like you, Sasuke-teme?" retorted the fifth clone.
"We're supposed to be ninja," began the fourth one. "And there are undoubtedly enemy spies amongst the village."
"I'd rather be discounted in the eyes of the public as a competent person, thank you very much," finished an eighth Naruto, who was just now entering the clearing.
This blonde's clothing was very different from the clones. Primarily black, for one thing. Oh, there was still orange present, but it was a more muted tone, rather than the fluorescent neon that the clones had. The orange was present in such a pattern as to give the impression of a leopard's coat, but reversed. He wore gloves of black leather, with orange spirals stitched into the backs. His undershirt was a bright red, giving the visual imagery of one of the many poison dart tree frogs found to the tropical south of Konoha proper.
Sakura openly gaped at Naruto's new look, while Sasuke simply stared. The blonde simply grinned back at them.
"And yes, all the blonde me's you've seen today and yesterday were simply clones," continued the suddenly mysterious boy. "I learned the Kagebunshin no jutsu the night before last and I've been experimenting with it since."
"Where were you if you weren't at the academy yesterday?" Sasuke suddenly asked, rightfully curious. "And where were you today?"
"Chatting with the Old Man... er, Hokage," responded Naruto, ignoring the first question. "Now, are you going to accept my help or not?" Clearly, the blonde was getting irritated.
Sasuke scowled, but nodded and opened his mouth so that he could eat from the chopsticks the clone was holding up for him. Following the dark-haired youth's example, Sakura also allowed the other clone to feed her.
Before Kakashi could leap in there to scare the crap out of Sasuke and Sakura, another Naruto walked right up to him in his hiding place.
"Yo," greeted Kakashi, pretending to not be surprised.
This Naruto was also in his red/black/orange outfit.
"So, is this the real you, or are you simply another clone?"
"Actually, this is the real me. The one talking to Sasuke and Sakura is another clone."
"So you've learned the information feedback aspect of the shadow clone?"
"I studied the entry on the scroll rather extensively when I had it."
"I'm surprised you chose that one to learn instead of the jutsu before it," sighed the older man.
"I assume you read the report on Mizuki's betrayal?"
"I was lying when I said I learned only one. I was just telling the Hokage that today during this test."
"Why wait two days?"
"It was the first time I could get him alone, actually."
"You seem as confused as those two are about my sudden competence."
"Yeah, a little."
"You read my Academy file?"
"Nope. I was judging you by your excellent performance yesterday. Excellent placement of expired milk in your apartment, by the way."
"Expired... ? Heh. Forgot about that. Been meaning to go grocery shopping in the past couple of days."
Kakashi raised his visible eyebrow. Naruto sighed.
"Fine. I really did place it there on purpose."
"You're an excellent actor, Naruto. You'd be very good as an infiltration specialist."
The blonde shrugged. "It's what Old Man Hokage keeps telling me." He turned towards the other two prospective Genin. "Are we going to pass? Honestly, I was not impressed by the feedback the dispelled clones gave me."
As the blonde watched out of the corner of his vision, Kakashi's eye closed, and Naruto had the impression that the man was smiling. "You'll see."
As the bentos were emptied, Kakashi jumped into the clearing, scaring Sasuke and Sakura. The Naruto clones pretended to be afraid.
The real Naruto was rather amused.
Kakashi yelled at them about how they were trash for breaking the rules, but he praised them for not being worse than trash because Naruto refused to abandon his teammates.
Naruto was actually surprised by what Kakashi said next.
"Since Naruto is the only one to understand the meaning of this test, he is the only one who passes today."
"But what about the bells!" asked Sakura.
"I lied. I'm a ninja. It happens. Anyway, you're off the hook, Naruto."
All eight Narutos nodded before dispelling, surprising the two Genin-wanabes.
"The two of you have one more chance: if you fail, you return to the Academy. Your new test is in information gathering. Your subject: Uzumaki Naruto. Gather as much information on him as you can, at least three pages' worth each, and report back here in exactly forty-eight hours."
Kakashi cut their bonds before leaving immediately, returning to the real Naruto's side.
"They're not going to find too much," replied Naruto. "Not much of value, anyway."
"I realize that. But I'm going to do some digging as well."
"As I expect you to. You'll find more than they will combined, I'm sure."
Kakashi shook his head, amused. "By the way, I've got to compliment you on your suicidal exploding clone."
"Came up with the idea as soon as I learned of the jutsu."
Kakashi smiled again.
Kakashi did find out a great deal, especially since he went straight to the Sandaime (Third) Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen.
"I need to know what Naruto is capable of, for one, and I need to know more about him in general."
The old man smiled. "You heard of the incident when he was five that convinced me to get him his own apartment?"
"I was the ANBU who led that case," replied Kakashi. "It involved one of the orphanage staff trying to get Naruto to eat a live poison dart tree frog."
The Sandaime nodded. "Young Naruto became fascinated with the frogs at that point. I had to assign someone to teach him how to read so that the boy could research them."
Kakashi cocked his head. "Who did you assign?"
"Mitarashi Anko was particularly depressed at the time, especially since we had a lead on Orochimaru's activities that turned out to be a dud."
The silver-haired Jounin raised his visible eyebrow.
"It was good for her as she couldn't teach and be drunk at the same time, Naruto learned how to read, and the two of them managed to relate to one-another."
Kakashi nodded. "Makes sense. So his obsession with these venomous amphibians has continued since?"
"That it has," laughed the Hokage. "Did you know that he coats all of his combat-ready weapons with a deadly contact poison? And not just the blades but the handles too?"
Kakashi's eye twitched. "That's... insane!"
"Yeah, he nearly gave me a heart attack when I found out what he went through to do so."
"He captured some of those frogs, didn't he?"
"Yes. He milks them for their venom and then chemically alters it so that it has a time delay once absorbed into the bloodstream."
Kakashi went very still at that. With the time delay, an opponent who touched one of the weapons, or allowed it to graze them, wouldn't feel the effects of the poison until they had already pushed it throughout much of their body.
"Is... is that why he wears those gloves?"
"Partially. He's actually immune to it, and his gloves are there to distract from that fact."
Kakashi's one visible eye widened.
"They're also chemically resistant to his poisons, like the rest of his wardrobe."
The Jounin let out a nervous sigh.
But something doesn't click. "Where does he mix his concoctions? He doesn't have a lab in his apartment."
"No, he does not. His lab is in the basement of ANBU Headquarters Seven."
"Crazy?" interrupted the old man. "I will admit that it is quite a distance from his apartment in the slums, even so far as to say it is on the other side of the village."
"How does he travel in between?"
Kakashi was getting somewhat annoyed at how surprised he kept getting, so it was somewhat understandable that his emotional control began to slip.
"What do you mean 'he doesn't'?" growled the Jounin.
"He travels to his office, and from there he uses the reverse-summoning seal matrix therein to get to his lab."
Kakashi was exasperated. "Seal matrix? Office?"
The Hokage laughed.
The Sandaime informed Kakashi that Naruto had his office on the third floor of the Hokage Tower, and that the seal matrices were provided as a favor by Jiraiya of the Sannin, who the boy looked up to. Jiraiya's ability to summon toads had caught the boy's interest when he was young. Though they were generally not poisonous like dart frogs were, they shared many characteristics with their fellow amphibians.
So, Naruto would walk from his apartment to his office in the Hokage Tower, and then teleport to ANBU HQ7 to work on his poison formulae.
His office was there to give the boy a sense of what it would be like to be the Hokage, Kakashi found after entering. The boy even had to do paperwork, as evidenced by the six shadow clones working on it when he came in. They all looked up at him, grinned, and went back to work, like they had expected him to be there.
The boy had books on psychology and information gathering, on chemicals and poisons, on frogs and toads, on seals and chakra theory, and on politics both domestic and international. Several more clones were reading various different books at the same time.
Undoubtedly, more clones were somewhere doing chakra control exercises while the real one was probably training physically. Kakashi smiled before turning and leaving.
When he got to HQ7, Kakashi was not surprised to learn that Naruto's pranks were unofficially used as tests of Village Security.
It was odd, but Naruto's skills at pranking were utilized as best as they could be. Itching powder to simulate a poison gas attack. Paint bombs to simulate explosive devices. Various different pranks to simulate different kinds of enemy attacks.
Irritatingly, Kakashi was not given clearance to visit due to a lack of training in poison making. He understood the why, but he wondered if the real Naruto was in there at the moment.
Oh well. It would be interesting to find out what Sasuke and Sakura would discover.
End Chapter One.
Next Chapter: missions.
Yeah, this one borrows somewhat from "Kakashi's Lament" by Chris Hill, but I think it is more flattery than anything else.
Anyway, this idea first came to me when in "Team 8" by S'TarKan one of Naruto's clones said "I am Legion". Additional inspiration came from Animal Planet, when they had a special on Brazil's most venomous creatures.
Anyway, this didn't take too long to get done. I hope to get back into my groove for "The Laughing Fox" soon, as I'd like to get that thing finished (and it's nowhere close to being done).
Anyway, gotta thank Mr. Fix-It-NAO for beta'ing.